CARLA WARD took a swipe at Birmingham City's owners after she sensationally QUIT as manager.
The departing Brum boss revealed she would have loved to have stayed at the helm but conditions at the club made it impossible to do so.
Ward has been in charge of the Midlands side since August 2020 following a two-year spell managing Women's Championship side Sheffield United.
And the former Blades coach – who enjoyed a 14-year midfield playing career – had intended to see out her contract with Blues.
But after internal conflicts with the board, her position with the Damson Park side became untenable.
Ward, 37, said: "Everybody that knows me knows I don't go down without a fight.
"I want to push and knock on every single possible door first, and try to find a way.
"So of course I would have liked to of stayed, I would have liked to have seen out my contract and be here for a little bit longer.
"But ultimately, it's just the position that becomes. I don't think we can continue to work in the capacity we've worked.
"So ultimately, that's what really confirmed my decision."
Women's football has been growing over the years at the game's highest levels with more top clubs establishing women's teams.
While Ward thinks this is a good thing, she questioned whether clubs have the knowledge of what the resource and commitment required to accommodate a women's team.
And after her experience with Birmingham, the former Blades boss wants more clubs to consider these factors before setting up a team.
Ward added: "I think that everybody want's a women's team, but I think it's really working out where women's football fits in their organisation.
"And do all football clubs understand the size of women's football? The importance of women's football?
"I think they're questions that every single club should be looking at each year when they're looking at how their women's club is set up."
This season Ward and her squad have been wrangling with Blues board members about poor working conditions, contracts and pay.
And after pleas for them to invest in the women's side seemingly fell deaf ears, Ward says she began to consider her position.
The situation within the club prompted Ward to seek a fresh start although she admitting to having some "unbelievable times" with Blues.
Ward said: "It's something that I've been thinking about for the last couple of months.
"It's been an unbelievable year and an emotional year.
"It's been tough at times, but it's an opportunity that I've loved every minute of, but ultimately I believe I've given everything I've got.
"And I believe now it's time for a fresh chapter.
"One thing I will say is I will be forever grateful to Blues for allowing me to step into this division and work with an exceptional bunch of players who have given everything."
Despite Ward's frustration with the club, officials thanked her for her services and for helping them to avoid relegation.
Birmingham Women general manager Sarah Westwood said: "I would like to put on record my thanks to Carla for her efforts and dedication to the position throughout the season.
"It has been a challenging year given the absence of Blue-noses from any of our fixtures, with Carla galvanising the players and staff to achieve what nobody outside of the Football Club deemed possible.
"We respect her decision and wish her all the best for the future."
One thing Ward says will miss is her tight-knit bond with her players.
After the obstacles they faced together this year, the departing Birmingham boss said sharing her exit with them was "devastating."
Ward added: "I come in this morning to tell them, I had it rehearsed in my head what I was going to say.
"I don't cry in front of anyone, but after the first two words, I had a complete meltdown.
"But I think it probably sums up how I feel about the group.
"You know, it's devastating to share that with them because you know we'vestuck together this year, it's been tough.
"Really, really tough and I'll be lying if I said it wasn't emotional from everybody in that room.
"But ultimately I think the time is right to be stepping away."
Birmingham have another chance to make Ward proud when they face Southampton in the Women's FA Cup fifth round in what will be her manager's final game in charge.
The Isle of Wight-born coach believes her side will have to be at their best against their National League side to avoid an upset.
Ward revealed she has no plans to immediately return to management and intends to spend quality time with her daughter.
But when she does return to the dugout, she hopes it will be back in the Women's Super League.
Ward said: "We've absolutely got to be at it against Southampton because you can't take them lightly."
"It's just about getting to the end of the season, getting Sunday out of the way.
"The immediate future will be to have a little bit of time with my little girl and relax and reflect.
"I don't particularly want to get out of the WSL. I love it, I'm not going to lie.
"It's a league that I've thoroughly enjoyed."
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